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When there are several comments some of them get hidden, which I don't mind, except when comments in the middle are hidden and I don't realize it till I get to the end. Then I have to unhide the comments and try to figure out which ones I haven't read.

The comments stay in order as they should so you can follow them but when you hide random ones in the middle you can loose the context of the comments until you unhide them all.

I have a couple of ideas that could help with this.

Put the Show X more comments at the top of the comments instead of the bottom

Put some indicator that there or hidden comments between these two

Comment this is the first comment
Comment this is the second comment
...
Comment this is the fourth comment, comment three is hidden indicated by the dots
Comment this is the fifth comment
...
Comment this is comment number nine, comment 6, 7, and 8 are hidden 

Where the dots equals some indicator that there are hidden comment between two comments

Finally you could highlight the newly shown comments when you hit the unhide comments link like you do when you post your question.

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I like this suggestion. Subtle, and effective. –  Shog9 Oct 4 '09 at 5:40
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I'll give this a few more days, if no one thinks the other two suggestions are good idea's I'll accept the one for putting the link at the top. –  Larry Oct 6 '09 at 1:24
    
Didn't find your question, so I just posted a similar one (thanks to AnonJr for linking me here). My question contains an additional example, where the comments system leads to confusion, so I'd like to leave a link: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/43836/… (or should I rather post it here - but it's not really an answer to this question?) –  Chris Lercher Mar 24 '10 at 19:48
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@Jeff: How can this be declined with no comment whatsoever? It's not that this is difficult to implement and definitely would make the user experience better! –  fretje Mar 25 '11 at 8:38
    
@fretje we actively suppress discussion, we don't encourage it. By design. –  Jeff Atwood Mar 25 '11 at 8:52
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@Jeff: I don't see how this feature request has anything to do with suppressing discussion. If you really would like to suppress discussion, just remove the commenting system all together (especially now we also have the chat). If you don't remove it, you might as well make it better. –  fretje Mar 25 '11 at 9:20
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@fret I simply don't agree with this request and I am philosophically opposed to it on principle. Sorry. –  Jeff Atwood Mar 25 '11 at 9:52
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Yes, it's always the same. You start reading the comments to see if they're interesting. Then you read the second comment, the third, the fourth. Suddenly you notice that something sounds weird. You look beneath the comments and see that there are 8 more. But you shouldn't have to care for that already since you haven't even read those 5 completely.. Then you remember that the hidden comments might be between the ones you've read already. You click on the link and have to read everything again. You also make a mental note to click on the link before starting to read next time. As always. –  Robert Mar 6 '12 at 12:17

5 Answers 5

up vote 26 down vote accepted

If the 'show extra comments' link was at the top of the comments, it would be easier to see that some comments were hidden, and it wouldn't be necessary to number comments.

The link could be more obvious, too.

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Okay this looks like the best answer, now just to get status planned tag.... I wonder if I could do that hehe –  Larry Oct 8 '09 at 22:30
    
Yes! Yes! Yes! Thanks Larry. –  pavium Oct 9 '09 at 3:09

I just wanted to post the same feature-request and found this one.

I like to suggest to simply use a slightly thicker separation line between shown comments if there are hidden comments between it. This can IMHO be done by adding an additional CSS class to the comment before or after the hidden comment(s). At the moment border-bottom: 1px dotted #DDDDDD; is used for the separation line (here on Meta.SO). If a hidden comment follows 2px and/or a different color could be used. This way different SE sites can also configure it using their site style.

This way it can be seen that there are hidden comments between up-voted once, which avoids confusion if there is an ongoing exchange with comments where the shown comments don't make full sense on their own. At the same time slightly thicker lines are not intrusive.

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Currently the 5 most upvoted comments are shown. But since it's rare for a Question/Answer to have more than 5 comments I think that there's no point in hiding comments at all.

Hiding comments on those rare events is confusing. And over all it doesn't help because it's rare.

On the other hand even "only" 5 comments consume a lot of space. So I think that 5 comments are already too much. Furthermore when you realize that there are hidden comments it's difficult to mentally integrate them into the sequence of the ones you've already read.

So one obvious solution is to show only one comment. This way you're still able to read the best rated comment without having to click somewhere. And if you want to read the other comments you can still click on "show X more comments". But it's easier to mentally integrate the 1 comment you've already read into the others. And because now it's usual to have hidden comments it's easier to remember to unhide them before starting to read.

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Considering how often I have to unhide comments, I wouldn't consider more than five comments to be rare. Far from it. Otoh I believe it likely that the 5 comments chosen are representative, and I won't have to read them all. The same cannot be said if only a single comment is displayed. –  MvG Sep 13 '12 at 18:54

Comments are not meant to be discussion between each other, and for that reason they are not threaded. The best voted comments are shown by default with an indicator at the bottom that there are more comments.

Additional notification that there are comments between the highlight comments is unnecessary, and adds more UI clutter. It is generally obvious if highlighted comments are directed in response to a non-highlighted comment, and those that are curious can certainly show all comments to see the timing of each. This is especially true since people are using the @ notification system.

Further, comments are actually not very common, and more than 5 comments in a given post are not very common given the number of posts on the site. Those that are interested in the full details of discussion on a particular post are easily able to view the whole thing in order with a single click, and are notified that there are more with that message.

Adding more UI clutter without simply going full out to a threaded comment system doesn't really make sense.

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5  
I think, the clutter would be quite minimal. And just like in many forums, chats etc., I think that a discussion can be displayed very well without a fully threaded comment system (I actually strongly prefer this way of reading, because it's easier to make sure you've read all of it, and to be sure, which answers can't possibly depend on some other answer). But if comments are left out completely from the thread, it becomes impossible to read. –  Chris Lercher Mar 24 '10 at 20:22
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Also, I basically always have to scroll, because I like to keep the answer on my screen while reading the comments. –  Chris Lercher Mar 24 '10 at 20:23
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On English.SE, we often have more than five comments, and I have been mislead into total confusion by the unmarked trimming—unmarked at the top and unmarked at the point where the actual trimming occurs, that is. –  Cerberus Jan 23 '11 at 21:23
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Making the comment separator line slightly bolder when there are hidden comments "behind" it hardly qualifies as adding more UI clutter. –  Marti Feb 15 '11 at 16:27

Why not just get in the habit of opening all the comments before you read? If you're gonna spend the time to read comments, might as well expand it.

It seems like an awful lot of work and clutter to label comments numbers when you can just click "add/ show comments".

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I read from top to bottom. So if a question has 6 or 7 comments showing I have to scroll all they way down to the bottom to see if there are hidden comments before I start reading them. It's not a problem if the bottom of the comments are above the fold, it's when I have to scroll down. –  Larry Oct 3 '09 at 22:51
    
I don't think most comments span an entire vertical page, so you should be able to see the top of the first and bottom of the last comment. –  GManNickG Oct 3 '09 at 22:53
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I don't want the comments numbered I was using that to show that the missing comments were hidden. Just some indication that there is a comment hidden between these two. Or as one of my suggestions just move the show comments link to the top of the comments. –  Larry Oct 3 '09 at 23:06
    
It's not intuitive to hide comments at one place and mention it somewhere else. Implicitly telling the users to get into certain habits doesn't make the site better. The users have the habit of responding to other comments. The need for a thread like commenting system does exist. So instead of showing the best rated comments it would be even better to hide all comments. –  Robert Mar 6 '12 at 12:10

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